Tampa home

Girl’s Bedroom Update – Before and Plans

Before Casey was born, we happened to live near a baby furniture outlet and we were excited to buy some nice furniture for her bedroom.  Funny thing is that she didn’t actually have a bedroom in our house at the time.  We lived in Navy base housing for the first 4 months of her life and there happened to be a section of the master closet with no shelving where a pac’n’play and rocking chair would fit perfectly.  So she lived in a closet for a few months.

But back to the furniture…it was one of the first things set up when we moved to our Virginia house and Casey got a bedroom.  Almost all of the furniture I/we have purchased in the last 15 years has been dark.  Casey’s bedroom furniture was espresso colored and we loved it at the time.  There was a lot of storage with a tallboy, a dresser and a hutch.  But over the last couple of years it has started to feel heavy and too dark.  It also got damaged in a move and drawers were no longer sliding nicely.

Girl's Bedroom Crib & Rocker

Girl's Bedroom Espresso Dressers

I had visions of white for Casey.  She is fun and energetic and outgoing and the dark furniture didn’t work with her personality at all.  I started putting together a vision of an updated bedroom that would work here in Tampa but also work in our next home where she will have a smaller bedroom.  Casey liked the idea of white furniture and wanted to add teal/turquoise into the design.

I don’t have any great pictures of her bedroom in Tampa before we started this makeover.  I do have a couple of not so great ones that I think Casey took.  I was always to going to clean up and take good pictures but before I knew it, the furniture was out the door!  So here is a little bit of before:

Girl's Room Dark Dresser with Hutch

Girl's Room Tall Dark Dresser

I think I thought there was a lot of baby “stuff” but now I realize that there’s really a lot of 8 year old “stuff”!

First up was a bed.  I regretted the cheap mattress/boxspring we bought for her when she moved out of the crib.  It was always squeaky and not comfortable and I felt like it wasn’t cozy enough for her.  At one point, I ripped open the boxspring and pulled out the huge piece of cardboard that was the culprit in the squeakiness.  That was a good first step toward a better bed, but I felt like a crazy lady ripping apart a boxspring!

I thought a daybed with a trundle would be a great option.  She would get the coziness and room to have a friend over.  Then I found this Ikea daybed…

Ikea Hemnes Daybed

                                               Ikea Hemnes Daybed

It has storage drawers and it essentially turns into a king sized bed when pulled out!  It was my ideal bed but we kept our eyes out on Craigslist for other beds that might work.

I wanted to find a large dresser on Craigslist or a thrift store that I could paint white if needed.  We would be going from two dressers with 8 big drawers and two shelves to just one dresser, so I wanted it to be pretty substantial.  I also looked around at newer dressers, but we were trying not to spend too much money.  I would rather refinish a solid piece of furniture than buy something new that’s not as good quality.

So, I came up with this mood board for Casey’s updated bedroom.  She wanted it to be a little beachy too and loves the wave on canvas from Ikea.

Mood Board for Girl's Bedroom | Capturing the Threads

Next, I will share how our hunt for a white dresser went!

 

quilts

Christmas Quilt and Christmas Pillow

One of my goals for Christmas 2016 was to finally finish my Christmas quilt.  I started it in November 2014 but I think I set it aside for all the other Christmas events going on that year.  In 2015 I was planning to finish it and made it to the quilting step.  I think this was the beginning of my quilting frustration.  As I was quilting, it was bunching on top.  I didn’t want to “ruin” the quilt so I set it aside until I could get it right.

christmas quilt wip fabric arrangement

So 2016 became the year of the finished Christmas quilt.  And sadly I still don’t have my quilting problem fixed but I did the best I could.  I finished the quilting in mid-December so I could enjoy the process of sewing the binding on while watching Christmas movies and shows with the kids.  And I really did enjoy it!

christmas quilt kate spain fabric

back of christmas quilt

back of christmas quilt close up

But the best gift I gave myself this Christmas was actually my Christmas pillow.  It happened because I gave myself the gift of time…I finished all my other holiday “stuff” a few days before Christmas so that I could enjoy those days however I chose.  When a Christmas pillow popped up on Instagram that I loved, I decided I could make it for myself.  I found my way to the raspberry kiss block tutorial by Wooden Spoon Quilts and started cutting.

christmas pillow lantern red background

Three days later, I had a Christmas pillow.  It took quite a bit of time over those three days that I normally wouldn’t put into something for myself.  But I’m glad that I did.  It’s January 14th and my pillow and quilt are the only Christmas decorations still out.  It was kind of hard to enjoy any quilt in the 80 degree days we had in December.  It also took me until yesterday to take some good photographs and today to throw the quilt in for its first wash and dry!

Quilt Details:  With the exception of the binding, all the fabric is by Kate Spain.  The quilt top was made from a layer cake of the Flurry line, which apparently I was hoarding since that came out in 2011.  My favorite fabric is the red and green Christmas lightbulbs from her Joy line that I used in the backing.  The red and white fabric that I pieced to the backing to make it big enough is from the Flurry line.  The binding is Crosshatch Sketch in Ruby.  The pattern is the Treasure Boxes tutorial from Traceyjay Quilts.

Pillow Details:  I used a mix of red, green and neutral fabrics in the pillow – a lot were leftover Kate Spain fabrics and Tinsel from Cotton & Steel.  You pretty much see the extent of my low volume collection here too.  The pillow size is 16×16 and I made a simple envelope closure for the back.  It’s not quite big enough but I had the perfect fat quarter for the job and I made it work!  I also didn’t quilt it.  I’m considering taking it apart at some point and quilting it but I happy the way it is for now!

I’ll consider this a very successful Christmas sewing season.  It was stress free and fun and I was able to be creative for me!

christmas quilt kate spain fabric flurry

 

organization

Digital Photo Organization – Using Apple Photos and Shutterfly

digital photo organization

Happy New Year!  I’m hoping to be hanging around the blog a lot more this year.  I just finished reading my first book of the year – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – and I highlighted a part that ended up being a little kick in the butt for me.  “A dead website was a sad thing, she thought.  Full of hope when it had been set up, and now floating away down the Google drain, gently decaying.”  So I’m hoping to not float away this year and instead do the opposite…grow some good blog roots.

I usually get pretty motivated in January to create photo books.  My goal is to create family yearbooks every year.  Unfortunately, I’m way behind.  The only book I have actually printed is the first half of 2014.  I have the 1st half of 2015 mostly finished.  Nothing is done for the 2nd half of those years or any of 2016.

I make my photo books in Shutterfly and I use Apple’s Photos app for storing all my photos on my Mac.  Part of what holds me up in creating a photo book is culling through all of the photos to figure out which are the best.  In the past I have uploaded photos by month to Shutterfly.  But then I set my iPhone so that photos automatically backed up to Shutterfly.  I was glad for an automatic backup for my photos, but this ended up being a very poorly edited set of photos and I realized that I would have to delete the excess on both my Photos app and Shutterfly.

So for 2016, I decided to go back to my original method of organizing/editing/deleting in Photos and then uploading by month to Shutterfly.  But I took it up a notch in organization.  For the family yearbook, I only wanted family pictures with maybe a few of my quilts and home projects.  I set up a process that I went through for each month.  My plan was to work on a month at a time, maybe one month each day, so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

The process in Photos for each month went like this:

  1.  Create a Smart Album by date that includes all photos in that month.How to Create Smart Album for a Month
  2. Look through the album for that month and delete – pare down to the best photos and get rid of any other digital shots/downloads that weren’t really meant to be kept.
  3. Use keywords to tag certain photos.  I have keywords for my dog, quilts, sewing, house projects, organization, etc.
  4. Once the album has been “pruned” go back and edit the Smart Album.  Add more filters to get only the photos that will go in the family album.  I removed photos with certain keywords so that quilt pictures and organization/home projects were no longer in the album.  I also removed any movies.Edit Smart Album
  5. Upload that month’s pictures and add them to a new album in Shutterfly.

The next step will be to actually make the photo book!  Sometimes I can get bogged down in creating the perfect Shutterfly layout for my pictures but I’m hoping that by focusing on a month at a time that only has the best pictures will move this process along.

Once I had decided on this method and felt like I had a plan, I went through the Smart Album process for all of 2016 in two days.  It turned to be fun to look back at the pictures and my kids even helped at times. My daughter was very helpful in encouraging me to delete bad pictures of her!

I should also note that I will be doing a little more digital organization to organize the photos not in the family album and also upload them to Shutterfly, but in separate albums.  I am also thinking about using Google Photos as another form of backup.  I “heard” through the internet grapevine that as you edit/delete in Photos, those changes happen automatically in Google Photos.  Something I will check out!

quilts, school

Teacher Gift – Quilt with Student-Made Blocks

In November, our school hosts the Great American Teach-In where they invite parents and members of the community to be a teacher for a day and share about their jobs.  In 2014 I helped out when my husband’s aunt came as a nurse from Shriner’s Hospital and it made me think that I could share about quilt making the next year.  After much thought I decided to do it for the 2015 Teach-In.  Now that the 2016 Teach-In is only a couple months away, I thought I’d share how I went about this.

I thought a lot about how I was going to share my hobby with the students.  I wanted to show them all the different stages of a quilt going together but I also wanted it to be interactive.  I cut out a 6 1/2″ square for each student and ironed it to a piece of freezer paper to stabilize it.  Then I collected all my Sharpies and bought a few packages of Tulip fabric markers so the students could create their own design on their block.

Teacher Quilt with Student Designed Squares

 

 

I knew there was going to be quite a bit of preparation to get the fabric squares for two classes (my son’s and my daughter’s) together.  I also had a secret plan to add those student-designed squares to a quilt as a Christmas gift for each teacher.  I even cut blocks for the rest of the quilt so I could start sewing them together soon after the Great American Teach-In.

Then, I was told that I would be teaching to a combined classroom – both my child’s classroom and its sister classroom.  I was immediately overwhelmed with the idea of making 4 teacher quilts and decided my plan would have to change.  I still wanted all the students to be able to create their own fabric so I added about 40 more white blocks on freezer paper to my existing stack of 40.  And then decided to play it by ear.

Wall Hanging Quilt for Teacher

I shared and taught about making quilts to my son’s 4th grade classmates first.  They were all very interested in the process and how I put things together.  When they finally got their squares and the markers we were running out of time.  I needed the markers for 2nd grade but I promised I would send the markers back so they could work on their squares the next day during “fun Friday.”

2nd grade was a little tougher audience than 4th.  I sped through the process a little more quickly and then doled out the markers and fabric.  Some of the 2nd graders did not want to color on the fabric and others could care less what they put on the fabric so I decided that they could all keep their fabric squares and take them home.

On Friday afternoon my son brought home a fabric square from each of his fourth grade classmates and I decided that I would make a wall hanging with them for his teacher.  But not for Christmas as I had already moved on to table runners as teacher gifts.

Silver Polka-Dot Binding

Originally I planned to have this quilt finished some time in the new year but it always got pushed to the back burner.  I completed it in April 2016 and decided it would be a great gift for Teacher Appreciation Week.  I brought it in to class at the end of the week and the students gave it to their teacher.  The students were super excited to see their blocks in a quilt and their teacher will have a great memento of the 2015-2016 4th grade class.

Quilt Details:

Size: 25 x 25 inches

Sashing:  A solid grey I had on hand…any pattern I tried took away from the blocks

Quilting:  Straight lines, both vertically and horizontally in the sashing and horizontal lines at the top and bottom.

Binding:  Super fun silver polka dot – I will use this again for binding!  In the interest of time, I used a zigzag stitch to sew the binding down to the backing.  I also added a pocket on the back for hanging.

Backing:  (Not shown) Leftover grey and white sheet from another project

 

 

 

organization, school, Tampa home

Simple Desks for Elementary Students

It’s been about two years since the kids and I went on a fun trip to get desks.  We had a lot of room in our craft room/office and I wanted them to each have their own place to do homework.  But, I didn’t want to spend too much on furniture that might not fit into the next house.  Since we already had a lot of storage for school supplies, I wanted a simple tabletop for each of them.

Since I’ve moved to Tampa and been near an Ikea, it’s become my go to store for furniture and storage items.  You can’t beat the prices and I’m not as worried about it becoming damaged in a future move.  There are still areas where I want nice furniture but there are a lot of places where Ikea is just right, such as these desks.

For under $100, we were able to buy two tabletops, two sets of legs and two swivel chairs.  The most difficult part of our adventure was choosing the chairs.  I had a vision for chairs that was a little different from the kids.  They both wanted different colors and different styles and I eventually steered them towards a single color, single style even though it wasn’t exactly the color I wanted.

Originally I set up the desks in the middle of the room and they faced each other.  This worked okay but they would easily distract each other and the desktops seemed to be constantly messy.  This prompted furniture move #2 in the craft room and their desks went up against a wall.

It turned out that the scrap book supply cubes I bought years ago were the exact same height as the desks and helped to contain some of the clutter that had spread over their desks.  And, I finally put labels on the drawers and it really helped with keeping things organized!

 

Elementary Study Area with Ikea Desks

I tend to get a project to 95% finished and call it good enough.  Labels are usually part of that last 5% that I don’t get to.  In the last year, I’ve been much better about adding labels and I am seeing why it is so useful.  Not to mention cute!  I still give myself a pat on the back every time I realize how helpful they are.

School Supply Storage

Each of the kids has a drawer to stash anything they’d like to help keep the clutter off of their desks.  Then I have places for glue, string, stamps and crayons.  There is a drawer for paper, a drawer for random craft supplies and a drawer for cards.  I recently went through and went through the cards.  There were a lot of good intentions in there…that never got mailed.  I decided if I hadn’t sent out the Thanksgiving cards in 5 years, I probably wasn’t going to get to that!

I bought each of the kids a desk calendar in an attempt to help them stay better organized.  I was mostly thinking of my son, who I thought could benefit from a monthly overview instead of the weekly planner he brings home from school.  My daughter was self motivated and has hers all filled out with special dates and homework due dates and his is still pretty much blank!

Casey's Desk

They each have a caddy on or near their desks which corral some of the junk that flows in.  We clean them out every once in a while when they start to overflow.  We’ve had them for years and they have always been useful in one way or another.

student desk with desk calendar

And finally, we have a lot of pencils!  I bought this divided copper container at Homegoods once and have been searching for a good place for it.  It’s a little short to store my kitchen utensils but it turns out to be a great place to store markers, pencils, scissors and rulers.

Copper Storage for School Supplies

The wall that the desks are on is a 16 foot wall and it was overwhelming to figure out what to put on the wall.  Originally it was going to have our college degrees on there but I thought it was a little boring.  When I moved the kids’ desks to this wall, it would have been cute to add bulletin boards and some of their projects but we just left it as is.

Desk Area

Now that my daughter’s room has been updated, she wanted her desk upstairs, so this area just has my son’s desk.  A few other things have been moved around and as soon as the new shelves are decorated, I’ll post the whole craft room/office!